The atmosphere has a significant impact on the design of a global communication system operating at 20 GHz. The system under consideration has a total atmospheric link attenuation budget that is less than 6 dB. For this relatively small link margin, rain, cloud, and molecular attenuation have to be taken into account. For an assessment of system performance on a global basis, attenuation models are utilized. There is concern whether current models can adequately describe the atmospheric effects such that a system planner can properly allocate his resources for superior overall system performance. The atmospheric attenuation as predicted by models will be examined.